SA ready to deal with search, rescue in 2010

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa is ready to deal with any search and rescue situation that may arise during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says Transport Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin.

Speaking at the opening session of the regional field Search and Rescue (SAR) exercise on Wednesday, the deputy minister said South Africa was ready to respond professionally and effectively in the event of an accident or incident.

However, he warned that response times could always be improved on so that there is a high degree of proficiency and professionalism.

"Readiness is about cutting down the time it takes to respond to a search and rescue situation. So far we can say we have that technical capacity and experience. But we must constantly improve, sharpen our readiness even more," he said.

It is estimate that about 400 000 fans will arrive in South Africa for the World Cup through maritime transport, some will come from neighbouring countries by road.

South Africa is responsible for a huge search and rescue area. The search and rescue region represents approximately 10 percent of the globe which is about 28.5 million square kilometres in total.

To manage this vast area, the South African area is divided into two Search and Rescue Regions namely, the aeronautical and maritime Search and Rescue Regions.

The Aeronautical Search and Rescue Region covers South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and associated flight information regions.

The Maritime Search and Rescue Region stretch approximately halfway between South Africa and South America on the Western side, approximately halfway between South Africa and Australia on the Eastern side.

Cronin said the department had planned activities to create awareness, educate and uplift the community's search and rescue knowledge. Through the exercise the department also want ato raise the profile of the South African Search and Rescue organisation and to plough back to the community.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approached the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to consider funding the training requirements identified for the region.

Together with the department of environment affairs, the transport department is planning to create search and rescue capacity at the Antarctic region.